Missouri Pacific Ry. Co. v. Kansas
Annotate this Case
216 U.S. 262 (1910)
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U.S. Supreme Court
Missouri Pacific Ry. Co. v. Kansas, 216 U.S. 262 (1910)
Missouri Pacific Railway Company v. Kansas
Argued November 30, 1909
Decided February 21, 1910
216 U.S. 262
The fact that a railroad company is chartered by another state and has projected its lines through several states does not make all of its business interstate commerce and render unconstitutional, as an interference with, and burden upon interstate commerce, reasonable regulations of a state Railroad Commission applicable to a portion of the lines wholly within, and which are valid under, the laws of that state.
Quaere whether, on writ of error where the constitutional question is whether a rate or duty prescribed by a state commission amounts to deprivation of property without due process of law, this Court is bound by a finding of the state court that a rate or duty is not actually confiscatory.
There is a difference between the exertion of the legislative power to establish rates in such a manner as to confiscate the property of a public service corporation by fixing them below a remunerative
standard and one compelling the corporation to render a service which it is essentially its duty to perform, and an order directing a railroad company to run a regular passenger train over its line, instead of a mixed passenger and freight train, is not, even if such train is run at a loss, a deprivation of property without due process of law, or a taking of private property for public use without compensation; nor is such an order an unreasonable exercise of governmental control. Such an order, if made by the railroad commission of a state, is not an interference with, or burden upon, interstate commerce if it relates to a portion of the line wholly within that state.
A state statute making provisions for passengers riding on the caboose of freight trains will not be construed as a declaration of the state that there is no distinction between passenger train service and mixed train service, especially where, as in Kansas, the liability of the railroad is limited as to persons riding in cabooses.
An order cannot be said to be such an unreasonable exertion of authority as to amount to deprivation of property without due process of law because made operative only to the limit of the right to do so.
While railway property is susceptible of private ownership and protected by constitutional guarantees, these rights are not abridged by being subjected to governmental power of reasonable regulation.
Where a contract is held subject to the reserved power to alter, amend or repeal, the right conferred, whatever be its extent, is subject to such reserved power, and so held that a charter privilege to regulate train service is subject to the reasonable and otherwise legal order of a commission created by the legislature, and such an order is not invalid under the contract clause of the federal Constitution.
An order of the railroad commission of a state requiring a train to be run from a point within the state to the state line is not invalid if otherwise legal, as an interference with, or burden upon, interstate commerce because there are no present terminal facilities at the state line and it is more convenient to the corporation to run the train to a further point in the adjoining state.
76 Kan. 467 affirmed.
The facts are stated in the opinion.